Things to Come opens with a near-future forecast of Christmas 1940 in the metropolis of Everytown (obviously London), a city threatened by world war. Pacifist intellectuals, such as John Cabal (Massey), try to turn the tide. But Cabal's efforts go unheeded by the self-interested classes, and war arrives with tanks and aeroplanes and gas bombs. Everytown is destroyed by air raids (dramatically enacted four years before the real thing).The war continues for thirty years, its original purpose forgotten. As a result, civilization degenerates while "the Wandering Sickness" and devastation accelerate the spiral down until 1970, when the world has crumbled into a balkanized "Mad Max" Dark Ages. Everytown is ruled by a barbaric warlord, the Boss (Ralph Richardson), as the war continues on a Medieval scale.
Originally Submitted by: www.k-otic.com
November 11, 2009
For those interested in H. G. Wells and "Things To Come".
A link to two items:
1.) A review "Things to Come: A Critical Text of the 1935 London First Edition, with an Introduction and Appendices" edited by of Leon Stover.
Even though he and Wells would have differed radically on politics, Dr. Stover shared with Wells what might be called "Cosmic Vision," a view of humanity in the context of vast reaches of space and eons of time. At an early age, he discovered the scientific romances of H.G. Wells, which awakened in him a "sense of wonder," and it became one of his life-long pursuits to explicate to himself the ramifications of those fascinating novels that took the long view, the cosmic evolutionary view, that could be summed up in one short question: Whither Mankind? The nine-volume The Annotated H.G. Wells was the result.
The film Things To Come was the Summa of Wells' ideas for a socialist World State. The Annotated H.G. Wells, Volume 9: Things To Come is the Summa of Dr. Stover's explication of Wells' scientific romances.
Stoverism, A Unique View of Wells' Utopian Ideas.
The Annotated H.G. Wells, Volume 9: Things To Come is Dr. Stover's explication of the film Things To Come as a propaganda vehicle for Wells to expound his brand of Saint-Simonian socialism. The film Things To Come was Wells' last will and testament to his world socialist brethren, the Summa of his ideas for a socialist World State. The following introductory remarks, which will serve as background for the readings from the book, is a brief outline of Dr. Stover's unique view of Wells' Utopian ideas. Members of the H.G. Wells Society in London referred to Dr. Stover's view of Wells as Stoverism.
Wells wasn't a Hindu. But, to present the summation of his Utopian ideas, his brand of Saint-Simonian world socialism, which was the reason for making the film Whither Mankind? (re-titled Things To Come as it went into production), Wells chose to make his characters avatars of the Hindu Trinity: Brahma The Creator, Siva The Destroyer, and Vishnu The Possessor, because, to Wells, the Hindu Trinity was emblematic of the structure of ancient Indo-European culture: The Philosopher-King (embodying the convoluted mirror-twin forces of Brahma and Siva) and The Subjects (embodying the simple, but schizophrenic force of Vishnu).
The Hindu Trinity represents the eternal tri-polar struggle of those raw cosmic forces that have driven the course of human affairs since civilization began: Brahma The Lawgiver (priest-theoretician) and Siva The Enforcer (king-soldier), the two arms of the all-powerful State, sometimes at war with each other, and always at war with Vishnu The Preserver (bourgiosie-landowner and peasant-worker). This tri-polar struggle was carried over from the times of Stonehenge, the Greek city-states, through Feudal times, into the Industrial Revolution, and even into Modern Times (the thirties, between World War I and the approaching World War II).
In Wells' view, comparing the examples of Nazi Germany, Soviet Russia, and even his own Great Britain to Plato's Republic, and to Saint-Simon's technocracy, The Rulers and their Executives were incompetent captives of Vishnu, valuing the possession of territories subsumed under the banners of nation-states that fragmented the planet and prevented the formation of a socialist World State, and The Ruled were selfish brutes, also captives of Vishnu, valuing the possession of women subsumed under the sanctions of marriage and family that prevented the emergence of a new evolutionary product: Cosmic Man, an entity made of all humanity, working together in common cause, as bees in a hive, submerging all vestiges of individuality.
Wells' socialist mentor-saint was Henri Saint-Simon, a nobleman who was stripped of his nobility by the French Revolution, and whose greatest disciple was Auguste Comte, the man who invented the word "socialism." Saint-Simon was the first thinker to see that the Industrial Revolution was more important than the political one. The French Revolution, in the name of the People, did nothing to put down the feudal and military system, and the old order soon came back. To overthrow feudalism once and for all, that was the original socialist idea. Saint-Simon advocated the control of society by its "industrial chiefs," they who were the aristocracy of talent, the technocrats, run under the guidance of a "Council of Newton," composed of scientists and engineers. This would be a competent socialist World State, and Vishnu (embodied in the willing proletariat) would be held eternally in check by Siva (embodied in the technocrats) under the direction of Brahma (embodied in the Council of Newton).
Wells wasn't a Marxist. In Wells' estimation, the closest approximation to this Saint-Simonian socialist "Heaven on Earth" was the original Soviet Union, set up by the Bolsheviks, under the leadership of V.I. Lenin, although--at the time--it hadn't achieved world-wide domination. It fell short of being the ideal socialist World State. We had Lenin and the Politburo embodying the Council of Newton, the Communist Party, the Red Army, and the Secret Police embodying the technocratic executives, all under the direction of the Politburo, and the (maybe-not-so-willing) Proletariat guided by the firm hand of the dedicated Communist Party bureaucrats (backed up by the Red Army and the Secret Police). Aside from the fact that it didn't yet control the entire planet, the biggest flaw in the new Soviet Union was that the leaders gave lip-service to the Marxist rhetoric of class-warfare. In private, Lenin and the Party Elite were technocratic socialists of the Saint-Simonian stripe. But, to appeal to the masses of the Proletariat, Communist Party propaganda had to be couched in terms of Marxist ideology. This Wells despised.
If we could define Communism, as practiced by the Communist Party under V.I. Lenin, as Marxism-Leninism, then Wellsism, Wells' brand of Saint-Simonian socialism, might be close to Communism minus Marxism; that is, Leninism. The main reason for the existence of the film Things To Come was to provide a propaganda vehicle for Wells to expound his brand of Saint-Simonian socialism. Wells used the characters John Cabal and his grandson, Oswald Cabal, as spokesmen for Wellsism. They embody the truest aspects of the Saint-Simonian Scientist-Technocrat, all Brahma and Siva working together to keep Vishnu in check!
Those who believe that Wells was a Marxist--the majority of critics who have attempted a political reading of Wells' scientific romances, and Things To Come, in particular--will probably wither under the searchlight of Dr. Stover's analysis of the film that was originally titled Whither Mankind? But, that's their problem!
2.) A website devoted to all things regarding the film.